Thursday, September 18, 2014

Stereotypical Family Personas in my Abroad Life

Quick Link: 13 Expat Family Personas

What is a family?

When we leave our blood families behind - for whatever reasons - we grow nervous that we can never rebuild what we had. Families are really a group of people bonded by a life they share and while the actual people could never be replaced, the stereotypical personas can be. Everyone can identify with the strange uncle or the boozy - cause we all got one. 

Our expat community is no different. We are not connected by blood, but make no mistake, this very large connected group of people is a family – drama, laughter and everything in between - with each family member contributing their own persona. Click here to read the 13 expat family personas.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I'm Back, Bitches

After 3 months (the longest stretch I have been home to NJ since moving) of living the gypsy life, which Husband and I have come to know as our summers home, I have finally returned to our abroad home in Santo Domingo... and it feels goooooood. Usually after 6-8 weeks in the summer, there is an enveloping sadness when I leave for my island life but there was something about an extra 4 weeks in the Garden State that moved me from sad to set. I don't know if it was the month without Husband or just the natural desire to rest my head down on my own pillow but, either way, I was ready to get back.

There is plenty I won't miss when I leave this rock at the beginning of every summer. But there's also so much I can't wait to return to...

Dios le bendiga
Husband and I joked when our daughter was born that she would think her name was Dios-le-bendiga instead of Rafaella because everywhere we went Dominicans were God-blessing-her. A trip to the supermarket included 17 Dios-le-bendigas, 3 avocados, and one boxed milk. As a prego, I got plenty of blessings too and as a normal person I get them as a less aggressive cat call. It has come to be part of the vocabulary I associate with life here. When I go to NJ, no one blesses my kids or me. Actually, very few people could care about my kids when I'm in the States which wouldn't bother me except for the fact that, here, they are rockstars everywhere they go. I figure if it's good for my self-esteem, it's gotta be good for theirs too.

Hair. Long beautiful hair. Lots of ladies I know on this rock find that the humid island air is on constant attack to their hair. I, in fact, have the complete opposite problem. My hair likes this weather and though sometimes I could probably benefit from brushing my hair, generally, it looks fine enough. Stateside, I wake up some mornings feeling like I should Chewbacca gargle-cry since his hair days, at worst, are better kept than mine. The other day, my mother, the woman who gave birth to me full of slime and blood looked at me and said, "You're hair looks ugly." I almost chew-bacca-ed her head off. The truth is, I have become lazy doing my hair on this island. First, it is just too hot to care and secondly, why would I bother when I could go to the salon and get a manicure, pedicure, and blowout for $25.

While we're on it... the salon. Sure, one might have to let go of massage pedicture chairs (although I'd argue that I have yet to find one pedicure chair back home with all of the buttons in tact) but no one- and I mean - no one can wash and blow dry your hair like a Dominican lady. To begin with, the hair wash lasts about 10 minutes and is itself a transformative experience. Then the blow out is so intense that my neck gets a work out simultaneously so I get the added bonus of beautiful neck muscles. And the finished result, besides looking perfect, lasts me almost a week and costs less than two lattes at Starbucks. #score.

You have never truly had a mango unless you've had one in a place like this. While mango season is technically between May-August, the mango I ate for breakfast this morning was a cross between candy and orgasmic. It was freaking perfection and reason enough to come and visit. The other fruit is crazy good too but there is a reason Husband bought me my own container of just mango from the fruit guy.

My place
Summers are beautiful for many things but getting work done is not one of them. This little desk here in the library of this school is my space. Nothing fancy. Nothing glamorous but it is where my soul is at peace and I write like the Dickens...

If you've read Drinking the Whole Bottle before, you'll know I talk a lot about the colmado. And while, yes, I love the colmado because it is where my buddies and I drink beers, I adore the colmado for what is represents more than for what they sell me in a 40 oz. frozen, glass bottle. There is a freedom, a laid back life that comes with this country and no where is it better executed than at these corner bodegas. No worries. No stress. No reason to rush. People are friendly, ready to offer you a smile or a Presidente - because either one makes any moment better. But mostly, it is a place to meet, to socialize, to stay connected, to laugh, to laugh louder, to sit elbow to elbow with people that make your life better. God, I love this place.
My bithces
Walking into Carol Morgan this morning, on my way to see Husband, I ran into a friend. Well, I ran into many friends because everyone here is so darn welcoming, but I ran into a particular friend who from down the hall opened her arms wide and said, "Finally. Now we're complete." It struck me in the gut: I am a part of a family here; a different kind of family than the ones I leave behind in NJ, but a family just the same. A family that leaves and changes and grows every year. A family that is built by proximity but held together by intimacy. A family that I love.

It's good to be back, bitches.

Chewbacca - Alejandro Slocker